Our Children, at War.
“I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, “Mother, what was war?” Eve Merriam
In this week’s issue of “More than Meets the Eye,” I’d like to address the increasingly pressing matter of the involvement of children in the global extremist movement. Though particularly difficult for me to write about, I aim to present the situation as accurately as possible, to be even-handed while not being alarmist. The robbery of even one child’s childhood is tragic. When it happens to thousands of children it is a nightmare of catastrophic proportions.
There is a troubling evolution developing in the world of global Islamist extremism. The focus on psychological terror is taking a not-so-subtle turn in its target selection and in its scheme to demoralize the West. Over the past few years it has seemed bad enough to hear the language being used by ISIS leadership, one of vitriol and violence. Here is an example of that discourse. “In an audio recording released in September 2014 and featuring Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, who implored supporters to launch a series of operations, regardless of their sophistication: If you can kill a disbelieving American or European—especially the spiteful and filthy French—or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war…then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be. Do not ask for anyone’s advice and do not seek anyone’s verdict…. Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him.”
That was 2014. Here is another ISIS press release from this week. Notice the shift of target focus and the devolution of morality. The message was posted in a pro-ISIS telegram channel on Monday and spread across a variety of pro-ISIS chat groups.
“I wish that I could travel to Europe or America or Australia and, by Allah, burn their children with oil in place of their men and women, I would not choose a market, club, shopping center, or park… no… no… no… I would choose a kindergarten and a maternity hospital to slaughter them.”
The level of desperation of these Islamist extremists is quite obvious. What depths are they willing to go to, to exact revenge or vent their hatred for all things that do not conform to their world-view? Interestingly, “Islamic law has a lot of prohibitions against the killing of children, so this is designed to shock. By calling for the deaths of children in the West, they’re not only trying to inspire attacks in the West—they’re also trying to draw attention to how shocking it is that Muslim children have been killed, and no one was able to protect them,” Chris Meserole, a Middle East expert at the Brookings Institution, told Newsweek. Terrorist groups often threaten children when they feel weak and powerless. It is in man’s fallen nature to strike at the weakest possible target he can find when he himself is feeling powerless. This is true in terrorism, in criminal activity and often in the home.
What is amazing is the lengths that ISIS is going to in order to justify its new position. “ISIS has made numerous justifications of killing children, stating in issue five of its Rumiyah magazine: ‘one should not grieve over the collateral killing of kafir [infidel] women and children.’” What this tells me is that they are not planning to stop the killing and targeting of children any time soon.
It is not my intention to frighten you or to unjustly point my finger at particular groups, except those groups that are openly displaying this kind of horrific action. I certainly do not want to imply that this is a Muslim (in general) endorsed mentality towards children. I just want you to understand that these kinds of threats exist and that we need to be aware of how to teach our children what to do when they are faced with a situation that looks threatening and possibly dangerous.
It is prudent to understand that the struggle with Islamist extremists is not going to end in the near future. This war is going to last a very long time. The notion that solving the simple variables at play will cure the dilemma is a self-deception.
Here are three commonly held misconceptions about why Islamist extremists are terrorizing the Western world. – Some say that if everyone had a job there would be no terrorism. The problem is not poverty or that people need jobs. Sure people want to be lifted out of poverty, but it is not the reason for terrorism. — Another thought is that terrorism is a result of Westerners stealing Middle eastern oil. Certainly, there have been many deals that were less than beneficial for the Arab peoples. However, a level of prosperity has emerged in the Middle East that has freed many to pursue their dreams. — The Israel situation is a problem, but it is not THE primary predicament concerning Islamist Radical Extremism.
The difficulty is that there is an Islamist narrative that in the minds of Islamist extremists must be played out. Here is a quick overview of the Muslim meta-narrative. It is the Islamists who have taken this meta-narrative and brought it into the 21st century, accounting for much of the success of Jihadists in mobilizing Muslims into their cause.
Narrative 1. The world was a terrible place before Islam, especially for the vulnerable, such as women and orphans.
Narrative 2. Arrival of Islam ushered in a golden era of human rights, prosperity, and happiness for all. The first Muslims followed Islam to the “T” and were therefore rewarded by Allah with victory after victory over non-Muslims. This era lasted till the end of fourth Islamic caliphate.
Narrative 3. After the golden era, Muslims moved away from Islam. As they did, Allah began taking away his blessings. There were several valiant attempts at slowing down this degradation but for the most part it continued. Things hit bottom when crusading colonials occupied Muslims lands. Now they controlled Muslims through oppressive puppet regimes. Those who support the West and it’s puppet regimes in Muslim countries are not Muslims, but apostates. Apostates who actively plot against Muslims deserve to be punished with death.
Narrative 4. The only way to regain the lost glory of Islam and to ensure a fulfillment of God’s promise to Muslims of a final victory of Islam, over all other religions is to go back to following Islam closely.
In particular, the doctrine, institution and culture of Jihad needs to be reconstituted to ensure a final victory of Islam. This is why Islamist extremist terrorism exists today. Azfal Upal points out that the historical roots of the last narrative go back to the 13th century Muslim defeat of Mongol invasions and at this point it is so deeply embedded, that a broad spectrum of Muslims regardless of their sectarian, social class, or political backgrounds broadly agree with most of the above four propositions (PewForum 2012, Moaddel 2014).
Where does what I’ve written about today leave us as Christians? We are living in a world with many hugely divergent understandings of the human narrative. Remember, we too have a meta-narrative. We have and are a part of a story. The meta-narrative above reveals how many Muslims understand life. It is their framework for comprehending how they fit into the world. It is exclusivistic. But so is our meta-narrative. We live and die, by the understanding that “there is no other name under heaven by which a man or woman can be saved.” (Acts 4:12) That name is Jesus Christ. The Muslim meta-narrative will admit that Jesus existed and that he was a prophet. But when it comes to believing that he was the son of God, and that he died on a cross to pay for our sins, they exclude themselves from our community.
What is our response? I have to be reminded regularly that “God so loved the world.” His love is unconditional for every Muslim man, woman and child. He longs to know them as he has longed to know us. This is reality. God wants to reveal himself through the saving power of the Good News, just as he did to us.
Join in on God’s love. Let’s love Muslims. Let’s be demonstrations of the love of God daily to our Muslim neighbors and friends. Here are several ways that I recommend loving a Muslim this Christmas season.
- Do not put all Muslims in an ISIS or al Qaeda box. Give your Muslim neighbors the benefit of the doubt that they are as horrified as you are by the extremism of Islamists. Show them that you love them enough to accept them on their own merits and not the merits of others with whom they may wholly disagree and do not even know.
- Give a Muslim friend, co-worker or neighbor a gift for Christmas. I tell my Muslim friends that it is our tradition to give gifts to one another to remind us of the gift that God gave to mankind through the birth of his son, Jesus. Don’t be intimidated by their questions. Answer them honestly and biblically.
- Invite a Muslim and/or their family into your home during the celebration season. Share your table with them. Get to know them. Demonstrate God’s love and generosity to them. Show them that you are not afraid of them because they are different. Show them God’s love.
- Pray for ISIS, al Qaeda, al Shabaab and the other Islamist extremist groups operating in the world. Pray that their atrocities will cease against, not only children, but against all humanity. Pray that they will come to know the one true Christ.
How to Protect Your Children in an Active Shooter Situation… https://amotherfarfromhome.com/what-every-mom-shou…
12 Things You Can Do Right Now to Arm Your Kids Against an Active Shooter… http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/parenting/a40…
Teaching Your Kids How to React to an Active Shooter … http://www.theprepperjournal.com/2014/09/24/teachi…
Why People Freeze in Active Shooter Situations… https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15198281
How To Protect Your Child During Active Shooter Situations, Because Yes, It’s Come To That… https://www.romper.com/p/how-to-protect-your-child…
How to Talk to Kids About Terrorism… http://www.parents.com/parenting/better-parenting/…
I found a great short training video on surviving an Active Shooter scenario… http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advic…